The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. — 2 Timothy 2:24-25
A man in our congregation tells how the Lord called him to be saved. After Don’s Christian mother died when he was only ten years old, the light went out of their happy home. His mother had managed to keep the family clothed and fed despite difficult circumstances, but raising the children alone was too much for his father. Soon, classmates ridiculed the children because they wore ragged clothing and ate “poor” food.
Don began to act out and got into trouble, eventually ending up in jail. Shortly after he was released, he ran away from home. The downward spiral he slipped into made him callous, and life was very hard. He found a job as a sailor, and in time, many more sinful habits became attached to his life.
One day when his ship was docked in Portland, Oregon, a man from the Apostolic Faith Church was standing on the dock when they tied up. He was not like the sailors or helpers around the docks; peace was written on his face. The Christian man came to Don’s door on the ship and invited him to church, but Don belligerently yelled in his face, saying, “No! I am not going to church!” The man meekly replied, “You better come along. It will do you good.”
Even though the Christian man left, Don could not get rid of those words. They spoke to his heart. Just a few minutes later, he ran down to the dock and told the Christian he had changed his mind — he would go to church. Although he did not get saved that night, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to him in the service. He began reaching out to God, and before long was wonderfully saved. Since then, he has shared the love of Jesus with countless others.
The meekness shown by that Christian man helped a rough and defiant young sailor to hear God’s Voice once again. If we remember to be gentle and patient, we may be able to help “those that oppose themselves” to come to repentance.
In today’s text, Paul gave Timothy advice on how to serve faithfully in matters of doctrine, and also in his own spiritual walk.
Timothy was exhorted to remind the congregation in Ephesus of the truths of the Gospel. The word translated as study (verse 15) in this context means “give diligence” or “exert oneself.” Paul was telling Timothy to apply himself to being a minister. This included serious study of God’s Word and also the maintenance of a wholehearted attitude regarding his responsibilities, so he would receive God’s approval and correctly interpret (rightly divide) the truth.
The Apostle warned Timothy to avoid striving about vain or useless words, which would undermine the truth. Paul was concerned about false teachers whose arguments brought discord. Unchecked, their teachings would spread and be spiritually deadly. The word canker (verse 17) comes from a Greek word that can be translated gangrene. Paul gave a specific example — that of Hymenaeus and Philetus, two people who had damaged the faith of others by teaching that the resurrection had already past. Then Paul reminded Timothy that “the foundation of God standeth sure” (verse 19). Nothing anyone said would change God’s truth.
In verses 20-21, Paul made a comparison using household items, some which were valued and some which were not. In Ephesus, some people were devoted to the truth and others were dissidents. If believers would choose to wholeheartedly follow God, they could be “sanctified” — set apart or dedicated for holy purposes, and cleansed. This would make them like the valuable vessels because they would be usable to God and equipped for what He wanted them to do.
Timothy, who was nearly forty years old when Paul wrote this letter, was considered a young man. As such, Paul addressed his personal behavior. He admonished Timothy to avoid evil, and in verse 22, he said to “flee also youthful lusts,” which could be translated “turn from the wayward impulses of youth.” Timothy (as other sincere believers) would be helped in this process by striving to have “righteousness, faith, charity, peace.”
Timothy needed to be gentle, patient, and meek, even though he was withstanding false teachings. The hope was that those who were resistant to the truth or had been swayed by false teachings would be recovered and brought back into fellowship.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. Expectation of faithfulness in service
A. In the Word (2:14-19)
1. Proper use of the Word (2:14-15)
2. Avoid the use of empty words (2:16-19)
B. In walk (2:20-26)
1. Avoid sin (2:20-22)
2. Practice righteousness (2:23-26)
As we abide in Christ, His gentleness will be apparent to even the belligerent ones we meet.